Monday, February 4, 2013
W2W4: Knicks vs. Pistons
By Jared Zwerling
The Knicks have dominated the Pistons in two games this season, winning by 21 points on Nov. 25 and by 15 on Jan. 17 in London. Each time, the Knicks had at least five players in double-figure scoring, fueled by their 3-point shooting. That also sparked them Saturday in a blowout victory against the Kings; the Knicks finished 19-for-43 (44.2 percent) from downtown.
Here are a few things to watch for tonight, starting at 7:30 p.m. ET, as the Knicks try to sweep their five-game homestand:
1. A better start. Have the Knicks been pacing themselves lately at the start of games, or just not getting up for sub-.500 teams? Against the Bucks and Kings recently, they started off slowly. In fact, boos filled the Garden on Saturday night when the Knicks went down 10-3 early, and coach Mike Woodson called a timeout. You can bet the Knicks don't want to hear that again in their own house.
Speaking of rebounding, the Knicks will also benefit from J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert's athleticism around the basket. When they soar for defensive rebounds, their ability to push the ball like point guards -- coupled with their speed in the open court -- provides great opportunities for fast-break points. And when Stoudemire is finishing like he's been doing -- 10-for-10 against the Kings -- that makes it all the better.
As for preventing the Pistons' passing, it's starts with stopping another young, quick point guard in Brandon Knight (13.9 points and 4.5 assists per game). He put up 21 points in the Garden on Nov. 25.
In addition, backup point guard Will Bynum (8.9 points and 3.7 assists in only 17.9 minutes per game) is another serious threat. He's one of only six players in the NBA who shoots 50 percent or higher off pick-and-rolls. The other five are Tony Parker, LeBron James, Steve Nash, Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo. That's pretty good company.
3. Can Melo get hot? Knicks fans on Saturday night saw their team up by as many as 50 points at one point. But the Knicks' star, Anthony, finished with only nine points. That could change tonight, as he'll likely square up against the slower-footed Maxiell, who's not used to guarding players who can take their game to the outside.